Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rest in Peace

I’m sorry to have gone so long without posting. Life kinda sent me for a loop last month.

While hanging out at Truman Reservoir (a Corps of Engineer $4/night with geezer card electric only site) – resting and relaxing - my only sibling, my little brother, Dennis (age 60), started having severe shortness of breath (no pain tho). An EKG showed evidence of an unknown previous heart attack, blocked arteries, & another heart attack in process. He was air-flighted to a hospital in Springfield, MO where he had triple by-pass surgery. Unfortunately, the previous heart attack & clogged arteries caused a lot of permanent damage and his heart just wore out pumping so hard — all without any symptoms! After his kidneys failed & his blood pressure dropped the third evening after surgery, he quietly slipped away — a week after first going to the doctor for what he thought was just the flu. He didn’t want me to see him hooked up to a dozen machines in the hospital, so I never saw him in the hospital. Thankfully I talked with him on the phone twice the night before surgery & briefly the morning before surgery. He KNEW how slim his chances were for surviving this & if he did, that he wouldn’t be able to work or be very active. I feel that he was at peace tho, having lived his life the way he wanted in spite of the way it would end.

Most of my memories of my brother are of us as kids, & I wonder if I really knew him as an adult. Although he lived in the same house as my parents, he was a loner, content to watch TV and play on a computer while being around to help look after my elderly parents. We talked about computers & technology, cats, our parents, the Green Bay Packers, and emailed jokes to each other frequently. 

As shocked and saddened by his death as I am, my biggest concern has been for my parents who are suddenly home alone. After the funeral, Jeff & I helped to clean out my brother’s stuff — and he was a very active pack rat. My parents are now next on the waiting list for a nice, small senior-citizen apartment as soon as one becomes available. I’ve asked for help from a cousin who visits my parents frequently and also from several of my parents’ close friends to keep me advised on how they’re really doing when I’m away. I’ve shown my dad how to store phone numbers in his cell phone to call people quickly without having to look up or punch in the numbers, how to retrieve voice messages, and we even entered ICE info into his phone. At least this helps them feel a little less lost & vulnerable from my brother’s sudden death. We’re all learning how I’m supposed to be as an only child.

And since my brother’s death is blamed largely on his smoking (like no one ever has heart failure who doesn’t smoke, right?), Jeff & I have once again stopped smoking, hopefully forever this time rather than just for a year or two. So after suddenly coming across three different people talking about their experiences with e-cigarettes, I did some internet research & decided to try them. I used nicotine patches to stop smoking before, but Jeff couldn’t use them because of the nightmares they caused. I ordered a couple of e-cigarettes from V2 Cigarettes which have been working very well for us. We get a small bit of nicotine in vapor form only — no smell, irritation, smoke, tar, or additional chemicals. They even come in flavors like vanilla, cherry, peppermint, cola, chocolate, & coffee. And we can reduce the amount of nicotine all the way down to zero. Oh how I love technology.


Since we needed to dump our tanks anyway & have already found homes for much of my brother’s belongings, we decided to give my folks a break from us (and vice versa) by returning to Truman Lake for a few days. We’re camped on the southern side of the lake this time with some cedar trees protecting us from a frigid north wind. It got down to 11º last night but we stayed nice & toasty without any frozen water. We got DirecTV working with the help of a great little free Droid program called Satellite Director. However the Verizon MiFi signal is very weak or intermittent, & I have to walk down next to the lake to make a cell phone call. We made a Wally World run this morning & got their little filet mignon steaks, potatoes for baking, & baby spinach salad w/raspberry vinaigrette. It was SOOOO delicious!


Jeff will finally be getting hearing aids thru the VA on March 8th & we’ll be heading to Compton Ridge Campground in Branson, MO soon after to work at least until sometime in late summer (if not all season). This will put us within a few hours of my parents. Although we wanted to winter somewhere south this year (& really wanted to go to the Quartzsite Casita rally specifically), it’s so ironic (or serendipitous) that we were near my parents when my brother died and that this winter is the mildest ever so far.

Unfortunately, this Monday morning (Feb 13), we awoke to SNOW — on the ground & coming down heavier with each hour! It’s expected to snow all day long with periods of freezing drizzle this evening & overnight. It’s a great day to just snuggle in & decompress!



  1. So sorry to read about your brother. I too lost my brother too early. He was 51. A smoker, and not such a healthy life style. But he was still a good guy. He died on the surgery table.
    I hope the best for your parents. We put my Mom into assisted living almost 3 years ago, and she loves it! she even gained weigh after she got there.

    1. Thanks. I've been lucky to have missed much of the tragedies that humans can experience, but it stands to reason, after so long a time, it's gona catch up with me. Good to hear that 'assisted living' can be a good experience.

  2. I've been concerned that you've not written since mid-January and was beginning to worry about you. Glad you both are well and I offer our condolences on the loss of your brother.

    Jo and I have both chuckled over the last couple of posts you made. It really makes us appreciate our "two-story" home on wheels.

  3. Thanks for your concern. As you can see, I'd started several new postings since my brother's death. . .but just couldn't seem get to the part of finalizing & publishing them. Several good things have happened this past week tho which I'll post about soon that have us back in the swing of enjoying our nomadic lifestyle.

  4. My condolences on your brother's passing. I'm glad to see you posting again. My 81yo Mom lives in retirement housing (not yet in assisted living), and there a some nice places in the KC area. She and my Dad had lived in these retirement places for the past 15 years or so. They both preferred to live around folks their own age.


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